by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Cheese

Oct 7 2019

Industry-funded study of the week: cheese this time

The study: Controlled Feeding of an 8-d, High-Dairy Cheese Diet Prevents Sodium-Induced Endothelial Dysfunction in the Cutaneous Microcirculation of Healthy, Older Adults through Reductions in Superoxide.  Billie K Alba, Anna E Stanhewicz, Priyankar Dey, Richard S Bruno, W Larry Kenney, Lacy M Alexander.  The Journal of Nutrition, nxz205, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz205

The conclusions: “These results demonstrate that incorporating dairy cheese into a high-sodium diet preserves EDD by decreasing the concentration of superoxide radicals. Consuming sodium in cheese, rather than in nondairy sources of sodium, may be an effective strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in salt-insensitive, older adults.”

The funder: “This research was supported by the National Dairy Council.”

The press headline: Gouda news for cheese lovers: study finds blood health benefit.”  The headline is clever but screamed industry-funded.  I immediately looked up the actual study to see who had paid for it.  The story in NutraIngredients.com reads like a press release.  It did not mention the funder.  It should have.

My correspondence with the editor of NutraIngredients.com over funding disclosure is the subject of tomorrow’s post.  Stay tuned.

Feb 13 2019

Another casualty of trade disputes: Cheese

The Wall Street Journal reports this mind-boggling statistic:  Cheese producers have put 1.4 billion pounds in cold storage in the hope that the market will improve and prices will rise.

Compared to other countries, Americans do not eat much cheese—35 pounds or so per capita per year.

That may be a lot less that the amount consumed in Denmark and other cheese-loving countries, but watch out for the calories: pound of cheese is 1100-1800 calories or more, depending on type.

Mar 20 2018

USDA-sponsored “Checkoff” program urges more cheese on pizza

The daily newsletter, DairyReporter.com, sends this intriguing story: “Pizza Hut adds 25% more cheese to pan pizzas as part of dairy checkoff program.”

More than 6,000 Pizza Hut locations in the US are adding 25% more cheese to its pan pizzas, requiring an additional 150m lbs of milk annually to meet the change, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) said.

You read that right: 150 million additional pounds of milk to make cheese for pizza.

Dairy Management Inc. runs the National Dairy Promotion & Research Board, a USDA-sponsored “checkoff” program.  Its purpose is to “build demand for dairy products.”

It does this by convincing fast food chains to add more dairy items to their menus.

As DairyReporter explains,

Pizza Hut’s increased milk demand could help chip away at an oversupply of milk causing a downward pressure on milk prices in the US. The USDA estimated that the US dairy industry will produce 21.8bn lbs of milk in 2018, while slightly lower than 2017 production, the supply still outweighs market demand causing milk prices to continue to drop.

I like cheese as much as anyone, but more cheese means more calories, if nothing else.

One ounce of mozzarella cheese provides 85 calories.  Two ounces = 170 calories, etc.

Enough said.

Addition: Thanks to Gerri French for telling me about Michael Moss’s video on this topic, based on his book Salt, Sugar, Fat.

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Sep 8 2017

Weekend reading: Reinventing the (Cheese) Wheel

Bronwen and Frances Percival.  Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese.  University of California Press, 2017.

 

 

In this book, the Percivals take a serious deep dive into the culinary history, sociology, politics, terroir, microbiology, and how-to of the making and eating of cheeses, raw and pasteurized.  Both kinds, when done right, can be delicious and safe.  This book should convince anyone that the making of wondrous cheeses is a science as well as an art.

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Aug 24 2017

Globalization in action: more cheese for pizza in China

Every now and then I see an article that seems like the most perfect indicator of food globalization; this one.

According to FoodNavigator-Asia.com, Fonterra, the New Zealand milk producer, is opening up a new milk production facility in Australia for one particular purpose: to meet the demand for cheese to top pizzas—in China.

Fonterra opened a $240m mozzarella plant to produce individually quick frozen (IQF) mozzarella in Clandeboye, New Zealand, last year, the largest producer of natural mozzarella in the Southern Hemisphere…40% of people in urban China now eat at Western style fast food outlets once a week, and the use of dairy in foodservice has grown by over 30% in five years</i>,” said Jacqueline Chow, COO, Global Consumer and Foodservice, Fonterra.

Where to begin?

  • Dairy cattle in New Zealand have replaced the sheep.  The green sheep meadows are disappearing.  Formerly pristine waters are now polluted.  Why not in Australia too?
  • The Chinese population is largely intolerant to lactose, the sugar in milk.  They can eat dairy products, but should they?
  • Does anyone else think that replacing the traditional Chinese diet with heavily cheesed pizza might not be the best idea?
  • Does anyone else find this mind-boggling?
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Aug 31 2016

Do poor people need more cheese products?

The USDA intends to buy $20 million worth of cheese products and will give them to federal nutrition programs and food banks.

Why?

To raise the price of milk and help milk producers.

Milk producers think this is way too little.  They asked USDA to buy $150 million in cheese products.  This would take 900 million pounds of milk off the U.S. market, reduce supply, and increase prices.

Is life tough for dairy farmers?  So they say.

As for cheese, we already eat a lot of it, more every year.

Is this the best way to support dairy farmers?

Just asking…

 

Dairy fat and risk of cardiovascular disease in 3 cohorts of US adults

Mu Chen, Yanping Li, Qi Sun, An Pan, JoAnn E Manson, Kathryn M Rexrode, Walter C Willett, Eric B Rimm, and Frank B Hu

Am J Clin Nutr first published on 24 August 2016 doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.134460

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/08/23/ajcn.116.134460.abstract

 

High intake of regular-fat cheese compared with reduced-fat cheese does not affect LDL cholesterol or risk markers of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial

Farinaz Raziani, Tine Tholstrup, Marlene D Kristensen, Matilde L Svanegaard, Christian Ritz, Arne Astrup, and Anne Raben

Am J Clin Nutr first published on 24 August 2016 doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.134932

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/08/23/ajcn.116.134932.abstract

Jun 13 2014

The FDA, cheese boards, and public policy

Is the FDA at war with small, artisanal cheese makers?

I hope not.

But the FDA seems especially clumsy in its dealings with artisanal cheese makers over food safety issues.

The FDA has some legitimate concerns.  Milk is anything but sterile.  Salting and aging cheese kills pathogens but not always completely, and there is always a possibility of recontamination of the rind.

Like all food producers, cheese makers— no matter what their size—ought to be following standard food safety procedures.  Most do.

Even so, contamination happens.  That’s why testing is such a good idea.   It can stop contaminated cheese from making customers sick.

Last week, an FDA official, Monica Metz,  set off a firestorm with a letter to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets,

The use of wooden shelves, rough or otherwise, for cheese ripening does not conform to cGMP requirements, which require that “all plant equipment and utensils shall be so designed and of such material and workmanship as to be adequately cleanable, and shall be properly maintained.” 21 CFR 110.40(a). Wooden shelves or boards cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitized.  The porous structure of wood enables it to absorb and retain bacteria, therefore bacteria generally colonize not only the surface but also the inside layers of wood. The shelves or boards used for aging make direct contact with finished products; hence they could be a potential source of pathogenic microorganisms in the finished products.

The American Cheese Society immediately issued a rebuttal:

For centuries, cheesemakers have been creating delicious, nutritious, unique cheeses aged on wood.

Today’s cheesemakers—large and small, domestic and international—continue to use this material for production due to its inherent safety, unique contribution to the aging and flavor-development process, and track record of safety as part of overall plant hygiene and good manufacturing practices. No foodborne illness outbreak has been found to be caused by the use of wood as an aging surface.

The FDA responded with a clarification

Recently, you may have heard some concerns suggesting the FDA has taken steps to end the long-standing practice in the cheesemaking industry of using wooden boards to age cheese. To be clear, we have not and are not prohibiting or banning the long-standing practice of using wood shelving in artisanal cheese. Nor does the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) require any such action. Reports to the contrary are not accurate.

Whew.  Hang onto those boards, but do keep them clean.

As for the FDA: it needs to go further and do a whole lot more to reassure artisanal cheese makers who are convinced that the agency is out to get them and put them out of business. 

May 3 2012

New and delightful books about food

Paul Kindstedt, Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization, Chelsea Green, 2012.
Kindstedt, a professor of food science at the University of Vermont and co-director of its Institute for Artisan Cheese, has organized his history by time period and region, from the Paleolithic origins of cheese to current attempts to regulate raw milk.  His material is well referenced and the book is full of facts and observations that will delight cheese lovers.

Seamus Mullen, Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better, Andrews McNeel, 2012.

I don’t usually blurb cookbooks but I couldn’t resist this one from Seamus  Mullen, the chef-owner of Tertulia in lower Manhattan.

This gorgeous book proves without a doubt the point I’ve been making for years: healthy food is delicious!  Take a look at what Seamus Mullen does with vegetables, fruit, grains and everything else he cooks.  I can’t wait to try his 10 Things to Do with Corn.  His food can’t guarantee health, but will surely make anyone happy!